Review – MHS MN150 Wiki Website

 Minnesota Historical Society
MN150 Wiki Website
The People, Places, and Things that Shape Our State
Reviewed June 25, 2013

Items of Interest

From the website:
“The MN150 wiki contains all the topics nominated for the MN150 exhibit at the Minnesota History Center…The MN150 documents responses to the following question: What person, place, thing, or event originating in Minnesota do you think has transformed our state, our country, or the world?”

This exhibit was on display from 10/13/2008 to 12/31/2011. 

General Comments

  • Anyone can say anything about people, places and things. Just because you read it here, does not mean it is true.
  • Unbalanced – Dakota Indian topics are not well represented.

Most Objectionable Statements

 Coldwater Springs

 History of how the natives of Minnesota who lived at Coldwater Spring lost their land and homes to the building of Fort Snelling. They are still trying to maintain the spring as a sacred spot almost being destroyed to the construction.
—Incorrect – At the time of the construction of Fort Snelling, there is no evidence of any Indians living at Coldwater Springs.
—Incorrect – There is no evidence that this site was any more sacred than similar sites elsewhere.

I, like most Minnesotans, became acquainted with Coldwater Springs during the Stop 55 movement. Although we lost the 4 oaks, the springs were preserved.
—Incorrect – The sacred oaks story was a myth created to stop the Highway 55 reroute.

Confluence of Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers

…in 1804 Zebulon Pike came in search of a place to locate a fort.
—Incorrect – Zebulon Pike came in 1805.

He [Seth Eastman] marries and has a family in the Dakota tradition, but leaves them on the prairie when he is called away.
—Is this correct? – Didn’t Eastman continue to send money for his wife and children?

By 1860, the United States begins to come unglued and the war begins in earnest in 1861. The Dakota, by now forced to slivers of land along the banks of the Minnesota River, are starving and forgotten by their “great father” in Washington, who can barely pay for the war exploding just outside his own doors.
—Incorrect – At a combined 10 miles by about 150 miles, I would not call this “slivers of land.”
—Incorrect – I would not say they were forgotten by their “great father.”
—Is this correct? – Were the Dakota starving in 1861?

 On the Minnesota frontier, the Dakota are “protected” on their slivers of land from the European settlers–for their own good.
—Incorrect – They were certainly able to defend themselves against the settlers. They did not need protection.

 The government treats the Dakota worse than it treats the horses in its own cavalry stables, and expects the “savages” to like it.
—Incorrect and disrespectful – This is an exaggeration. “Savages” is derogatory.

A trader at the Lower Sioux Agency tells the Dakota to “eat grass,” and helps to light the spark of the Dakota Conflict in 1862.
—Disrespectful – This trader had a name – Andrew Myrick. It should be explained why he made this statement.

The Dakota, proud, noble, and longer on the continent than the Europeans, push back, but fail and are forced out of Minnesota. They are captured, persecuted, mutilated, and their culture as well as their personage is raped. They are stripped of who they are and forced soulless into a European world.
—Unbalanced – How did the Dakota obtain this land? They killed members of other tribes and took their land.
—Incorrect – The “Dakota” did not push back. The hostile Dakota “pushed back.” The majority did not go to war against the whites. Killing more than 650 whites is hardly a “push back.”
—Incorrect – Not all of the Dakota were forced out of Minnesota.

The confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers–the Dakota birthplace…
—Incorrect – That this was a place of creation is a relatively recent addition to Dakota history. This is not the only place of Dakota creation. See Dahlheimer,

Today it is barely noticed by the travelers in cars, planes, or boats, but the spirits of the people who look down upon the confluence from Pilot Knob, the spirits of those who were buried face down and eyes closed in the Internment Camp, the spirits of those who have drowned in the waters still hold this place important, cherished, and sacred.
—Incorrect – Who was buried “face down” in the Internment Camp?
—What does this mean? – “drowned in the waters.” Who drowned in the waters?

Culturally the confluence has been the backdrop for attempted extermination…
—Incorrect – When was there “attempted extermination” here? If the U.S. had wanted to extermination the Dakota, they would have done this.

At present-day Mendota, near the place where the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers cross, an archaeologist found a 9,000-year-old flint spear point.
—Who made this spear point?

…the Dakota people who were held as prisoners of war at Fort Snelling after the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862:
—Incorrect – They were not prisoners of war.


Immigrants claimed land from the native people of what is now known as America…
—Incorrect – In Minnesota, the U.S. purchased the land from the native people.

Immigrants have brought with them new ideas, an eagerness to succeed and cultural flair, all of which positively impact everything from small-town Minnesota to that of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
—Unbalanced – This author seems to think the Indians were better off with the arrival of the immigrants.

These were the people who cleared the big woods of southern Minnesota…Within 20 years they converted this area into one of the richest agricultural regions in the world.
—Unbalanced – This “progress” came at a cost to the Indians who lost their land and their way of life. People have been in the Minnesota area for 12,000 years. History of this area did not start with the immigrants.

Indian Boarding Schools

Boarding schools had a tremendous impact on the history of American Indians in Minnesota… The Pipestone Boarding school in southwestern Minnesota was a government operated boarding school that educated Dakota and Ojibwe people in the region, in an era when Indian education meant learning English, adopting Christianity and Americanization and assimilation. Many tribal people feel the legacy of these schools is still felt today within their communities.
—Unbalanced – The stories that have been submitted generally are sad stories. I suspect that Indian boarding schools were similar to white boarding schools in their effect on the children.
—Unbalanced – There are good stories about the Pipestone Boarding School. See

As part of this policy, boarding school attendance was mandated for American Indian children nationwide.
—Is this correct? Maybe school attendance was mandated, but was boarding school attendance mandated for all Indian children?

Life for many boarding school students was bleak, but not all experiences were negative. Some former students recall compassionate teachers, character-enhancing sports programs, and strong bonds forged through common experiences.
—It is good to see some balance added.

Jeffers Petroglyphs

Jeffers Petroglyphs is where Minnesota’s recorded history began.
—Is this correct? There are other petroglyph sites in the state.

They document the perseverance of the people including the Cheyenne, Dakota, Arapaho, Otoe, and Iowa who thrived on this prairie for thousands of years because of their deep understanding and intimate relationship with their physical and spiritual world.
—According to some, the Dakota Indians have always been here. This is evidence that other tribes occupied southwestern Minnesota before the Dakota arrived.

In fact, Jeffers Petroglyphs may be one of the oldest continually used sacred sites in the world.
—Is this correct? Weren’t these petroglyphs covered by soil for many years? There is no mention of this site in Dakota Indian history prior to their rediscovery.

Lakota and the Dakota

What makes Minnesota – Minnesota? Let’s go back long, long before 1858, to the original people who lived here and named this home.
—Incorrect – It cannot be proven that the Lakota and the Dakota were the original people who lived here.

The Lakota and Dakota have a word mni (minne) which means water, and a word shota (sota) meaning smokey.
—Incorrect – According to Riggs, Dakota-English Dictionary, mini means water. Mni is listed as the Ihanktonwan word for water. According to Riggs, sota means “clear, but not perfectly so; slightly clouded, but not turbid; of a milky whitish appearance; sky-colored.”

There’s no doubt that the original people knew sky-tinted waters as clouds reflected clearly in our sky blue waters … but shota means smokey, so they honored the smoke of land-clearing peat fires which produced all this fertile soil in Mnishota!
—Is this correct?  – I have never seen interpretation that they honored the smoke of land-clearing peat fires.
—Incorrect – According to Riggs it is “minisota.”

Little Crow

As the leader of the Dakota combatants in the U.S. – Dakota War, to choose the path toward war was one of the most difficult decisions any leader has made in Minnesota history.
—Chief Little Crow was the elected leader of the Dakota war effort. But, he was leader only as long as his soldiers’ lodge agreed with him.

Ta-oya-te-duta Little Crow

Taoyateduta led the Dakota who, when frustrated by years of unkept promises, attempted to push the immigrant settlers out of their homeland in Minnesota. Taoyateduta started the struggles over homeland that formally ended at Wounded Knee. Dakota were removed from their homeland though most had tried to compromise and work through the changes required of them.
—Incorrect – The causes of the Dakota War of 1862 were many and complicated.
—Incorrect – Little Crow’s war ended at Wood Lake.
—Incorrect – The U.S. wanted the Dakota to learn European style farming. Most did not want to farm this way.

I choose Taoyateduta because he transformed our country by leading his men into war, fighting for peace.
—Incorrect – Little Crow was not fighting for peace by leading his men into war. He was fighting for peace when he openly opposed the war.

If it had not been for Taoyateduta, the 1862 Conflict may have resulted in even greater loss of life for both sides – or perhaps a very different ending for how the new State of Minnesota might have developed.
—What does this mean? What did Little Crow do that prevented greater loss of lives for both sides? How could Little Crow have cause a “very different ending” for the State of Minnesota?

U.S.–Dakota War

A kangaroo military court condemned over 300 Dakota men in 15-minute trials. President Abraham Lincoln reviewed the cases and pardoned all but 38…
—Incorrect – Calling this a “kangaroo military court” is an opinion.
—Unbalanced – The Dakota trial system should also be discussed – there wasn’t one.
—Incorrect – All trials were not 15 minutes long.
—Incorrect – Lincoln did not review the trials. Two assistants reviewed the trial transcripts.

To heighten the effect of their execution, all 38 were hanged simultaneously in a single drop–the largest mass execution in U.S. history. The Dakota Conflict cleared the way for white settlement and its influence can still be felt in the Dakota community.
—Incorrect – It was the largest simultaneous mass execution in U.S. history.
—Unbalanced – Its influence can also still be felt in the White community.

President Lincoln commuted the sentences of over 150 so only 38 died, either the day before or the day after Christmas.
—Lincoln saved about 265 from the gallows. The 38 were hanged the day after Christmas.

A major incident in the relations between whites and native peoples when 33 Dakota men were hanged at Mankato. Many were innocent men.
—Incorrect 38 were hanged.
—Incorrect – They were not all Dakota.
—Incorrect – For a few, the punishment did not fit the crime.

Took Indians’ land.
—Incorrect – The Dakota sold their land.

At the same time it revealed that Minnesotans are as susceptible to the passions of bigotry and revenge as those of any location.
—Unbalanced – The Dakota were also susceptible to the passions of bigotry and revenge.

More Indians should have been killed said many Minnesotans.
—Unbalanced – More whites should have been killed according to some Dakota people.

The Indians suffered greatly after the conflict was over. The prejudice and deprivation continued well into the Twentieth Century. It may not yet be removed from the public mind.
—Unbalanced – These things can be said about both sides.

There is a painting in the Minneapolis Institute of Art titled Minnesota Nice against a background, a backdrop, of an 1862 map silhouettes of the Mankato gallows, mounted soldiers and downcast Indians on foot in the direction of the Dakota Territory.  On the right-hand border is a long listing of treaties broken by the Federal government.
—Unbalanced – Hostile Dakota killed more than 650 whites; some in the worst way imaginable. This is why men were hanged and most of the Dakota removed.
—Unbalanced – The Dakota also broke treaties.

White settlers were killing the Dakota people.
—Incorrect – When and where were settlers killing Dakota people?

Shana Shana lived in South Dakota.
—Incorrect – Her name was Snana.

Wood Lake Battle…
The direct result of this battle decimated the Dakota population. Wholesale round-up of the Dakota, hostile or not, and the exodus of the white settlers from the MN River Valley delayed the settlement of that part of the state for 10 years and has had a residual effect on how our MN culture has developed.
—What does this mean? – It decimated the Dakota population.
—Is this correct? – Settlement was delayed for 10 years
—What does this mean? – It had a residual effect?

On the morning of August 18, 1862, a group of Dakota men attacked the Lower Sioux Agency, a U.S. government establishment near Redwood Falls.
—Incorrect – Redwood Falls was not there in 1862. The Lower Sioux Agency is about 6 miles east of present-day Redwood Falls.

For many years, the Dakota perspective on the war was ignored.
—Incorrect – There are many books and essays on the Dakota perspective.

Today, the inhumane treatment of the Dakota people–before the hangings they were forced into a concentration camp at Fort Snelling…is widely acknowledged, and ceremonies seeking reparation and reconciliation have taken place.
—Incorrect – This was not a concentration camp at Fort Snelling.
—Incorrect – Reconciliation means different things to different people. Understanding and education for all victims of the Dakota War are better words.

Henry B. Whipple

Later that year, he went to President Lincoln to ask him to release over 300 Dakota Indians who had been falsely accused. Lincoln granted his request and the innocent Dakota were released.
—Incorrect – Lincoln did not release 300 Dakota Indians.

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